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Opening New Markets And Expanding Opportunities Through Free Trade
President Bush Calls On Congress To Deliver Growth, Jobs, And Prosperity To The American People By Approving Pending Free Trade Agreements

Tonight, President Bush will call on Congress to open markets for American workers and entrepreneurs by approving free trade agreements with Colombia, Panama, and South Korea.  In December, President Bush signed legislation approving the U.S.-Peru free trade agreement, which Congress passed with strong bipartisan support to expand trade and investment and create new opportunities for citizens of both nations.  Congress should build on this progress by approving free trade agreements with Colombia, Panama, and South Korea to level the playing field for U.S. products and services in these countries.  All three pending free trade agreements include the same labor and environment provisions as the Peru free trade agreement, which the Administration negotiated with Congressional leadership as part of the May 10, 2007, bipartisan agreement on trade policy.

Expanding Free Trade And Investment Is Critical To Continued Economic Growth And Job Creation

Congress Should Approve The Free Trade Agreement With Colombia

For the sake of America's economy and national security, Congress should approve the vital free trade agreement with Colombia.  Both houses of the Colombian legislature have expressed overwhelming support for the trade agreement with the United States.  Now it is Congress' turn to support a key ally and expand opportunities in both our nations by approving this important agreement. 

Today, most Colombian products enter the United States duty-free.  The Colombia free trade agreement will level the playing field and help U.S. companies that export to Colombia find new buyers and be able to compete in the Colombian market.  Over 90 percent of U.S. imports from Colombia now enter our country duty-free.  This agreement will finally allow U.S. companies and farmers to have duty-free access to the Colombian market.  Once implemented, it will immediately eliminate tariffs on more than 80 percent of American exports of industrial and consumer goods, and it will provide significant new duty-free access for American agricultural commodities. 

Colombia is our fifth largest trading partner in Latin America.  Colombia is the largest market for U.S. agriculture exports in South America.

Colombia has proven itself worthy of America's support.  In recent years, Colombia's democratically elected president has taken courageous steps to stop drug traffickers, rein in illegal armed groups, including paramilitaries, and enforce the law.  Since 2000, kidnappings, terrorist attacks, and murders in Colombia have all dropped substantially, while convictions have increased and Colombia has extradited hundreds of drug traffickers and terrorists for prosecution in the United States.  With Colombian support and commitment, our rule of law and counterdrug assistance will continue to make a difference. The free trade agreement provides an opportunity for the U.S.-Colombia relationship to expand benefits for the American people. 

Approving The U.S.-Panama Free Trade Agreement Will Level The Playing Field For U.S. Business And Agriculture

In 2006, Panama and the United States exchanged around $3 billion worth of goods – nearly 50 percent more than just four years ago.  Panama has one of the fastest-growing economies in Central America, with a growth rate of more than eight percent last year. 

The U.S.-Panama free trade agreement will build on this vibrant trade relationship, immediately eliminating tariffs on 88 percent of U.S. industrial and consumer goods exports to Panama.  It will provide significant new duty-free access for American farmers and ranchers, and create opportunities for American businesses to participate in the Panama Canal expansion project.  It will also provide new market access for U.S. service suppliers, including in Panama's key financial services sector. 

Approving The U.S.-Korea Free Trade Agreement Will Give America's Workers And Farmers Access To A Large And Growing Market

The President will continue to work closely with Congress to approve a landmark free trade agreement with South Korea.  This agreement would create better jobs and opportunities on both sides of the Pacific and strengthen our relationship with a democratic ally in a critical part of the world.  The President urges Congress to act quickly to approve this agreement. 

The agreement will strengthen the United States' competitive position in the rapidly transforming Asian market and cement ties with a vital regional ally.  The U.S.-Korean alliance was forged in war more than a half century ago.  The KORUS FTA will strengthen that alliance with shared prosperity.

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